The effect of COVID-19 is high on the Cake Industry- Oladipo

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Yetunde Adepeju Oladipo nee Adekunle is a graduate of English from  the University of Ilorin, Kwara State.  The Ogbomoso-born baker takes us through her journey, the challenges faced by people in the confectionery industry and the impact of COVID-19 on their business. Herein is an excerpt of the interview our correspondent, Abolade Adewale, had with her-

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PDC: How did you develop interest in Baking and how you made your entry into the Industry?

Yetty: My step-mom was well travelled and she dealt in cakes/sweets. She made cakes for every member of the family for all occasions. So, I was always around her for the tidbits and watching her churn out delicious and well-crafted cakes.

PDC: This is a beautiful start; can you tell us how you embarked on a personal journey into the world of baking?

Yetty: As I was growing, I started learning from books as well, then, I started making cakes for the house. In 2002 when I started working with UAC, Mr. Biggs, I developed the skills further as I sneaked into the cake room to watch them  bake and decorate. I took up a very special interest in  baking thereafter. I purchased a small Kenwood mixer, cake pans and few decorating equipment to start life as a baker.

PDC: What’s your specialty in cake baking?

Yetty: My specialty is buttercream!!!  I so love it.  It is less stressful to bake, easy  to deal with and one covers more grounds fast!

PDC: While so many graduates are running after white-collar jobs, why did you venture into cake baking?

Yetty: After my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), no job was forthcoming, I was fast becoming discouraged, then a sister got a shop space in Adeniran Ogunsanya Mall, Surulere in 2010, I worked there till 2014 as a Manager. That was part of my hands-on experience and I gained more exposure from the staff. Equally, it built the managerial capabilities in me. There is one thing to have the skill, it is another thing to know the business aspect of it.

PDC: If you went through training, how long did it take you to become a boss of your own?

Yetty: I didn’t actually go for other trainings, I learnt largely on the job!  Donned my apron and worked with the staff,  I have always known no knowledge is a  waste. After leaving there, I got married and by God’s grace, I have become my own boss since 2014. I founded Cakes Inclined and Confectionery right in my house.

PDC: What are the challenges that you have faced in the confectionery industry?

Yetty: The challenges I have faced include being underpriced, even with rate cards, people tend to price lower than the cakes are actually worth.  Every baker knows that a lot of effort goes into purchasing quality ingredients to make quality cakes.

Power has been an endless challenge for many industries and we are not exempted.  We need to freeze or cool products some items. So a baker has to think and prepare ahead. You will marvel to hear that there are there are fake products in our industry too; I once bought fake margarine from  Lagos market; to be sincere, it was a major setback.

PDC: In the world of baking, who are your role models?

Yetty: I have several role models, the likes of The Cake Boss (Buddy Valastro), Sikuola Adewuyi( Cake and Candy ), Tarela Okene (Dripples  Ltd, P.H.) , Mix ‘n’ Bakes among others.

One of the works of Yetunde

PDC: What are the major things that determine a quality cake?

Yetty: Everything about a cake speaks to its quality- it starts with appearance, that’s why every baker ensure that their cakes are good looking and attractive. The taste must not be taken for granted, it needs to be sweet, well baked, customers should not taste the raw batter. The frosting also called the icing and the feel, it has to be fluffy, moist and spongy.

All these stem from quality ingredients, appropriate ingredients, a well balanced formula for specific cakes and thorough mixing and baking process.

PDC: In this present day Nigeria, do you think entrepreneurship can be solely relied on?

Yetty: Yes, entrepreneurship can be solely relied on!  A very little percentage of the populace are on government payroll while the Private sector is full of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs have been able to increase employment, productivity, create wealth, generate revenues and even pay taxes. That’s the way to stop the increase unemployment and crime rate.

PDC: I agree to the postulation that entrepreneurship can be relied on but do you think baking is enough to make a living?

Yetty: Yes, baking is enough to make a living because it has broad and several units attached to it. Some bakers add bread production, some produce cookies, snacks, smallchops and finger foods, sweets and confectionery which comprises of chocolate, sweets biscuits etc. Some others have gone into the production of ancilliary products such as cocktails and mocktails, indoor n outdoor catering, event decoration, sales of cake equipment and ingredients, training of students for a few,  so with the right  knowledge and environment,  baking is a very lucrative business.

PDC: There are some brands that are known to mass produce cakes for walk-in customers to buy, what’s the difference between your cakes and the ones that are mass produced?

Yetty: The difference is that we produce based on orders and referrals!  Our customers have the sole right to order whatsoever size, shape n type of cake they need, we are available to also offer advice and suggestions to give customer satisfaction as we would want them to keep coming back according to our Mission Statement.

PDC: What’s the effect of COVID-19 on the cake industry?

Yetty: The effect of covid-19 on the cake industry was huge in that we had to shut down production, I had to refund some customers pre-ordered cake money, on-going transactions were cancelled transactions indefinitely.  It was a total shutdown.  But the silver lining introduced us to different online trainings, we had advanced classes in baking and cake decoration. 

PDC: How have you been able to sustain business during this pandemic?

Yetty: Well, with the present condition of the country, there is already a hike in the prices of baking ingredients and this, in turn, has led to an unavoidable hike in cake prices too.  So, we have to inform our customers while baking in conformity with the customers’ demands. There have been no parties but family members celebrate in the comfort of their homes.

PDC: Where do you see yourself in the baking industry in the next 5 years?

Yetty: I see myself at the very top, making massive impact, excelling excellently and being a positive mentor to others while learning advanced skills.

PDC: Which of the bakers would you like to collaborate with?

Yetty: I would love to collaborate with Sikuola Adewuyi (Cake and Bake). I love her cake artistry 

PDC: As a Mumpreneur, how do you balance your personal life with the intense pressure of running business?

Yetty: I balance work and business by taking some steps such as I know no one can do it all so I seek help; I schedule my time to make out time for my family, so I usually work late into the night to get some sane time.

PDC: What’s your word of advice to young people who are still undergoing training in cake baking?

Yetty: I still see myself as an upcoming baker too, having said that,I will advise the younger ones to be disciplined,  serious and focused, be diligent, keep up with quality and keep improving , learn from all. Believe in themselves and above all trust God.

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